Monday, 7 September 2015

Another Estelle and Operation: Outerwear

StyleArc Estelle, version 2
I decided after the success of my previous StyleArc Estelle at the weekend to make another almost immediately.  The only change I made was a small square shoulder adjustment. It's not obvious from this photo, but that has reduced the wrinkliness around the shoulder substantially.

I kind of went back and forth on using this black and white floral lace print ponte. I'm not, generally, a big wearer of prints, or florals in particular, but I nevertheless bought this fabric right at the beginning of the year with some plan in mind (I forget what now). However, when it arrived I decided it was not quite the right weight or texture for whatever Plan A was. Plan B was always a cardigan, although originally I thought to make more of a jacket type thing. I had nothing definite in mind though and was happy to divert it into my second Estelle. The problem with using it with this pattern was that the wrong side -- which is plain white -- shows, and I wasn't entirely sure it would look okay. As it turns out, I kind of like the wrong side/right side contrast in the waterfall collar especially when it's sort of neatly falling as in my photograph above. However, on evidence of wearing it today, sometimes it flaps open in movement and it's all a bit glaringly wrong-side-on-show. So, I am still a bit undecided about what I think of that.

As documented for the previous version of this cardigan, I did a handful of not-especially-complex fit adjustments to get the pattern to work for me, and while I was working on them I found myself wondering why, when I am actually now reasonably competent at some of my key fitting adjustments, I am so hesitant to get started on my big autumn project, Operation: Outerwear, or, wanting to sew some kind of coat or jacket.

Ottobre 05-2012-05 jacket that I am planning to make (but not yet)
In fact, I have always planned to make TWO pieces of outerwear in what remains of the year: a corduroy blazer, for which I had identified an Ottobre pattern from 2012, and a more casual jacket in cotton moleskin to wear with jeans in the winter, for which I had picked out a pattern from a 2010 issue of Burda. Originally, I was going to make them in that order, and indeed I have previously mentioned the Ottobre blazer as part of my autumn sewing plans. However, after really thinking hard about what is holding me back from starting that project, I've decided that it would be better to reverse my plans, and possibly also do a third project in between.

The main thing that has been slowing me down is worrying about fitting. The thing with fit is that it is ostensibly why I sew: I hate coat shopping because my upper body is a poor match to most RTW standards and I really struggle to buy coats that work for me unless I look at specialist "large busted" manufacturers like Pepperberry, who I find to be largely overpriced for the quality of the goods. However, I feel like if I am going to sew for fit, I actually have to do a REALLY good job of it before I can really justify the effort/expense/learning curve of sewing outerwear.

Burda 08-2010-110, or the jacket I am planning to make next

This is just dumb. There are no sewing police going to come take my machines away if the fit I get is no better than the fit I get from RTW. Then, the fit of, for example, my current formal winter coat is TRULY awful. I mean, it's actually one of the most uncomfortable items of clothing I own. I put up with it because, to be honest, it was the best of many similarly or more uncomfortable coats that I tried on at the point when I was comparison shopping for a coat. So, I am pretty sure the bar for good fit is tragically low in the case of outerwear and I should worry less about it. Worse case scenario I just don't improve on the horrible fit I get from RTW, as I can't actually see how it could get worse. I don't think I'll even have to do that good a job at fitting to get a much better fit. Also, I need to START somewhere in order to get better. So what if I make an ill-fitting jacket? I walk around in an ill-fitting coat all the time at the moment, so that won't change, and I certainly won't get to the point where I can make an actually well-fitted jacket unless I try to make one and improve from there.

As to the expense and time, well, it goes without saying that I could get a coat for less money and effort than it will take for me to make one -- such is the way of our fast fashion dominated world. It occurred to me as I was adjusting my cardigan pattern that actually it would be a favour to myself to acknowledge that I don't really sew just for fit or utility. I actually do sew because I like it. I think it would be kind of fun to put together a casual winter coat this autumn, and I am therefore going to do it because at the moment joy is in rather short supply around here as this long boring illness continues to take a toll on my morale.

All that said, I have been put off making up the Ottobre pattern first because I think there's probably a more sane learning curve to follow -- the Ottobre pattern has this three piece princess seamed front bodice that I couldn't 100% figure out how I was going to FBA, plus a waist seam with darts that all needed to line up, all on top of the the basic things that I haven't done before that I'll need to learn to make a lined jacket/blazer like, oh, putting a lining in, just as an example. Plus I was planning to make it from cord, which hates being pressed. By contrast the other jacket I'd picked out has a lot fewer pieces and is less complex overall, so I think it makes sense from a sewing perspective, if not from a seasonal wearing perspective, to make it first.

I think I might also make a quick unlined knit blazer with a princess seam in between the two woven jackets so I can get some of the fitting issues with the princess seams nailed down as well in a separate step. I have made an unlined, princess seamed jacket before -- more than one, in fact. However, that was the summer of 2013 and I was wearing quite a different size at that time. It will help I am sure that I have some idea of the alterations I need to make, but I can't just slap the old pattern pieces on top of a new pattern the way I do with more recent projects. I want a black knit jacket and I happen to have a suitable pattern, so it makes sense to throw that into the pile of outerwear projects.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that having allowed amorphous trepidation put me off even starting my outerwear project for ages, I have now talked myself into a state of some excitement about making my winter jacket, and will be hopefully make some more progress in the next couple of weeks. First up: tracing the pattern and some initial adjustments before I make a muslin.

1 comment:

  1. Good for you for deciding to make your own coat! I haven't made one myself - or at least I haven't completed one. I have a Burda jacket pattern that I started, but I got sidetracked and never got back to it. I like that Ottobre jacket pattern and have thought about making that one too.